No items found.

Bustle: The 7 Best Non-Deet Mosquito Repellents

If you've ever emerged from a long (or even short) amount of time outdoors with those dreaded red, round, and super itchy bug bites all over your body, you're probably on the hunt for a better mosquito repellent. Typically, deterring those pesky insects has meant relying on products with that token — and very pungent— chemical DEET, but there are other viable options. Luckily, the best non-DEET mosquito repellents work just as well at keeping the bugs from feasting on your blood.

When shopping for a non-DEET formula, here's what to look for in the ingredient list:

  • Picaridin: This is a synthetic molecule that mimics a compound that's found in black pepper plants. It's odorless and essentially works by disguising your smell, making you unrecognizable to mosquitoes as potential prey. Studies have shown that it's just as effective against mosquitos as DEET when used in a concentration of 20%, so it's one of the most proven swaps you'll find.
  • Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE): Though it sounds like an essential oil, it's not. OLE is actually a naturally occurring compound extracted from the eucalyptus tree. It can be found in repellents in both natural and synthetic forms (where it's referred to as PMD) and is the only plant-based ingredient registered as a safe and effective repellent by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Allethrin and Permethrin: Both of these are synthetic versions of chrysanthemum extracts and are often found in repellents that are not absorbed directly onto the skin. Allethrin is especially good for using in lanterns in patios and outdoor spaces, while permethrin-treated garments will keep you mosquito-free through dozens of washes.
  • Essential oils: In terms of all-natural repellents, you'll find that essential oils like citronella or geranium are popular choices. Some studies have shown citronella "is as effective dose for dose as DEET," but because of its rapid rate of evaporation, it's not nearly as long-lasting. In addition, when applied directly to the skin, essential oils may cause allergic reactions. So it's best to use this form of bug protection for shorter times outdoors and in a less direct way, like with a bracelet.


Whether you're looking for a spray, lotion, or a colorful, fun cuff your kiddos will love, one of the best non-DEET mosquito repellents below will keep you happily bite-free without the stink.

See the full guide by Masha Vapnitchnaia on Bustle's website here.

LAST UPDATED

May 5, 2022

Written by
Photo thumbnail Blog Author

Bustle

Media Mentions from Bustle

Bustle is owned by BGD.

BDG drives the industry forward by constantly evolving to meet the dynamic needs of our audiences. We lead with authentic and diverse storytelling from trusted voices across our editorial network. Powered by the latest proprietary technology, our audience-first and platform-specific approach allows us to speak to those united by a boundless curiosity about the changing world and our place in it.

MEDIA MENTIONS

Of all the creepy crawlers, ticks keep me on high alert. They can be very tiny in the nymph stage and difficult to see. They love to hang out in tall grasses along the trail and hitch a ride on hikers passing by. I plan on treating most of my clothes and gear with Sawyer Permethrin.

Joanne Gigliotti

MEDIA MENTIONS

Ultra-compact and lightweight

House Grail
Media Mentions from House Grail

MEDIA MENTIONS

I would often just drink directly from the sawyer squeeze if I was feeling lazy- which by the way works wonderfully.

Rachel McVittie